There’s always more to every story than is often told, which is why it’s fascinating to come across accounts like this one by former Turbine Systems QA employee, who contributed to a multi-page thread about the “warts and all” of working on Lord of the Rings Online for 2.5 years.
The ex-employee, Aylwen, posted pictures from the company as well. Among his posts include tales of rivalry with the DDO staff, PvMP development, industry politics, obfuscation over internal failings, Blizzard’s “ferociously competitive nature” toward other studios, how Infinite Crisis was “hemorrhaging money,” and how Turbine took a stab at both a Harry Potter MMO and a console version of LOTRO.
Aylwen said that both the Warner Bros. buyout and the free-to-play transition were “deals with the devil” that had to be made. “We were hurting bad after [Siege of Mirkwood] subs were declining hard — and F2P was inevitable,” he wrote. “In March or thereabouts in ’10 an email went out from [James] Crowley stating that LOTRO’s US subs were down to around 85k.”
“Bad news was usually couched in disingenuous terms designed to save company face,” he also posted. “Public appearances were a major thing with the company and we were very good at maintaining an image of continued success. Even within the industry I found that most considered LOTRO a major success and had no hint that we were in trouble.”
He said that he is not a disgruntled employee, but someone who has “a lot of affection” for the game and the studio. Aylwen is also proud of what the team had accomplished: “Turbine’s biggest asset was its crazy bold ambition: We had less than 200 people in reconverted warehouse space behind a car dealership putting out three MMOs.”[Source: LOTRO Community forums; via: Ravalation]